A Grand Boondoggle!

Monarch-butterfly

By John Fowler

My dictionary describes a “boondoggle as a project funded by the government that is of no real value to the community or the nation.  A project to spend money for no good reason.

Lanark Country has a grand boondoggle in the planning stage – a plan to implement a roadside spraying program along all county roads in 2016 in an effort to control “noxious and invasive weeds” such as wild parsnip.

Hundreds of miles of roads?  Thousands of dollars of wages and equipment use?  Many, many gallons of poison to kill everything that lives in one of the most valuable and productive parts of our natural environment?

Unimagineable numbers of valuable and important insects.  Plant pollinators of every sort, including honey bees both wild and domestic, bumble bees, many, many species of wild bees, flies, beetles of all sorts.  And a couple of our most beautiful and very special butterflies – Monarchs and Black Swallowtails.

Common Milkweed (NOT A TOXIC WEED!) is common along our roadsides and is the only food plant of the Monarch Butterfly.

Monarch butterflies are currently facing three major risks, among which is lack of Common Milkweed.  They summer in mid-continent, including Lanark Co., and winter in Mexico.   The World Wildlife Fund’s 2013-14 report from Mexico showed that the number of Monarch Butterflies wintering there was at its lowest in 20 years.  Monarchs are listed as a species of special concern in both the Canadian Species at Risk Act and the Ontario Endangered Species Act, 2007.   Black Swallowtail butterflies are still common in our area but are thought to be under some pressure.  Plants of the carrot family are the food plants, including Wild Parsnip and Wild Carrot, also found along roadsides in Lanark County..  Neither Monarchs nor any Swallowtail species may be collected or raised in Ontario without a licence under the Fish and Wildlife Act of Ontario.

I’ve been asking my country friends here in Almonte and Ramsay Twp. If they know what Wild Parsnip looks like, if they’ve ever experienced any effects from contact, if they know anyone who’s actually been bothered by it.  Nope, nope, nope.  Not a great threat, if you ask me.

I’ve been told that the Mississippi Mills Council is at least largely opposed to this boondoggle scheme to spray our roadsides.  The municipality is asking residents for their feedback on the proposal as well as on the Environmental Advisory Committee’s recommendations to Council.   Council requests comments at a meeting on Monday, November 30th, 2015 at 7:00 pm in the Council Chambers, Municipal Offices, 3131 Old Perth Road, Almonte.

It’s a good chance to make your views known and provide your support.